PORT ORCHARD — After losing several top bowlers from last winter’s state bowling team, it’s not a surprise that expectations for South Kitsap were down a little heading into the 2020-2021 season.
The Wolves returned state bowlers Annabelle McElhaney and Abigail Rogers, who serve as this year’s team captains, but otherwise had a mishmash of younger or less experienced bowlers.
They went through the tough SPSL season with a 6-6 record and then just squeaked through as the fourth-place team at the league tournament. But at district, the team took its game to the next level and were the talk of the tournament as they jumped all the way up to second place to once again qualify for the 4A state tournament as a team.
“It wasn’t expected at all to make it to state as a team,” McElhaney said. “We wanted to, of course, but our hopes weren’t high.”
South Kitsap had done well through the first two full games, turning in team scores of 767 and 764. In game one, Maxine Winslow threw a 180 and Ariana Conrad bowled a 168 to lead the way. In game two, Rogers led the Wolves with a 180 and Alexis Clark turned in a 172.
But the third game was the turning point as the team huddled up and decided to turn down the pressure and just enjoy what they expected to be their last match together.
“We were trying to relieve all the pressure,” Rogers said. “When you get really tense, that’s when you start messing up and getting into your own head.”
Getting a little loose was just what the doctor ordered as the Wolves bowled an 896 in game three, led by Conrad’s 197. Clark (187), Rogers (184) and McElhaney (180) all turned in strong games as well.
The good vibes carried over to the Baker games where they rolled a 215 in the first, followed by a 113, 146 and 142. In the end, South Kitsap finished with 3,043 pins, good for second place in West Central District III.
Notably, the Wolves finished ahead of every team from the SPSL, including Curtis, which ran the table at 14-0. Not bad for a team that has spent much of the season finding their optimal lineup and consistency.
“The improvement has been huge,” Rogers said. “In the beginning, we had no idea who we were going to start each game.”
The 4A state tournament begins Friday at Narrows Plaza Bowl in University Place. The teams will bowl six regular games and crown the individual state champion. On Saturday, the teams take part in 14 baker games and announce the overall team champion.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to be in the top eight in the state, no matter what,” McElhaney said. “So we’re just going to enjoy our last time bowling together.”
South Kitsap will be represented by Winslow, Clark, Conrad, McElhaney, Rogers, Gillian Ciarelli and Laila Heiser.
Klahowya wins league and district titles to qualify for 1A/2A tournament
The Eagles continued their domination of the Olympic League with an undefeated record and a victory in the league tournament. They went on to capture a title at the West Central District III tournament and now turn their attention to the 1A/2A tournament, which begins today at Narrows Plaza Bowl.
Klahowya’s team consists of individual Olympic League and District III champ Jacklynne Stroup, Hailey Johnson, Faith Chamness, Hanah Catt, Lucille Mitchell, Kendall Fite and Shelby Perkins.
Olympic will send two individuals — Kyra Guski and Rebecca Converse. Meaghan Malone will be the lone representative Bremerton.
Kiana Mercadal of Central Kitsap qualified for the 3A tournament.